7 Questions with Kathleen Randolph, author of “Teaching Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities”

Kathleen Randolph, assistant professor of Teaching and Learning

Kathleen Randolph, assistant professor of teaching and learning at UCCS, teaches, researches and writes on special education and applied behavior analysis.

In her new book, “Teaching Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities,” Randolph offers educators a comprehensive resource on teaching students with challenging behaviors and supporting their academic, social and behavioral development. The practical, hands-on guide offers worksheets and examples to support implementation of evidence-based practices and a PluralPlus companion website with instructor resources including PowerPoints, online modules, test banks and sample class activities.

Randolph answered seven questions on the new book, published by Plural in 2020 and co-authored with educational diagnostician Lesli Raymond and Brittany L. Hott, associate professor of special education at the University of Oklahoma.

1. If you were describing your book to someone outside of your field, what would you say?

“Teaching Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities” provides a comprehensive resource for preservice and in-service educators to teach and support academic, social and behavioral development. The text focuses on implementation of evidence-based interventions, strategies and practices. Dedicated chapters address quality service delivery models including individual, classroom and school-wide supports.

In addition, academic intervention chapters concentrate on reading, mathematics, writing and study skills. Finally, the book includes step-by-step directions for conducting Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA), developing Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP) and monitoring student progress. The book will is a valuable reference for educators supporting students with challenging behaviors.

2. How did you get the idea for your project?

As I was looking for resources on teaching students specifically with emotional and behavioral disabilities, I found that most are very focused on behavior rather than academic and behavioral strategies. We tried to focus more on comprehensive supports for students with and at risk of being identified with having emotional and behavioral disabilities, and infused positive supports into academics, by including chapters on writing, literacy and mathematics. We also included different types of services students can receive in schools.

We need to remember that behavior often impacts the learning, and there may be an underlying learning difficulty which causes students to display certain, and those behavior and learning difficulties can be proactively supported during academic learning times. 

3. Did your focus develop or change throughout the research and writing process? 

Not really. We tried to maintain a practical, common-sense approach and use evidence-based strategies.

4. Which idea do you write about that most excites, invigorates or inspires you?      

I love writing about supporting students who display challenging behaviors in the schools using behavior analytic strategies. Most people think that Applied Behavior Analysis is only for kids with autism, and I like to share the evidence-based strategies that support using behavior analytic principles with all kids, and that a lot of it is really good teaching.

5. Describe your writing space. Where do you do your best work? What time of day? Do you have any writing routines you are willing to share?           

I try to schedule writing session every week with my colleagues at other universities weekly. We log onto Zoom together, discuss what we’re working on, set a timer and then come back together when the time is up. Sometimes we continue writing, and other times, we go onto other tasks.

6. Is there a favorite quote or passage you want to showcase from the book?

“Educators across the nation have heard the old adage about learning styles, and many of them talk about the type of learner they are when in a classroom. What may come as a surprise to these individuals is that learning styles are a myth. Simply put, learning styles are not real, there is no evidence to support them, and teachers need to focus on the science of teaching and learning, so that they can effectively teach children.

The issue with perpetuating the learning style myth is that there is no science to back it up, yet many schools are utilizing learning style assessments and teaching particular learning styles, and their use in public school continues (Travers, 2017). Travers (2017) noted common reasons for teachers’ continued use of pseudoscience, or unproven theories and concepts, in schools, including stereotyping students with disabilities as unable to express their wants and needs, stating that they lack motivation, or claiming positive reinforcement is bribery.”

7. What new questions for future exploration have you discovered? 

Not sure yet. I’m happy to put this book to bed and see it published!

UCCS celebrates faculty and staff who author and edit books each year. In recognition of their achievement, and as part of the UCCS Author Spotlight initiative, authors are invited to submit details on their published works.